flash back

Good like the old days is what we said. And now I remember just why I liked going to see Emma Rugg play so much two or three years ago when I first saw her down at the Adelphi.

Because Wednesday evening’s gig was a classic. Not because of any mystical note perfection set list choice venue atmosphere alignment, but just because it was brilliant in the way that a solo artist should excel.

It was being in a room with someone singing songs just for you.

Thanks Emma, because playing guitar and singing is something that a lot of people can pull off convincingly. But your sets are special because there is more to it than that and on Wednesday you captured something magical. Because while it is hard to stand up there and be nothing but yourself, it is just what you did. Armed with those deeply personal songs, with your Taylor that is more of a friend than a tool of your trade, a set list at your feet that morphs into whatever you want to make it and hopefully an audience that made you want to sing from your heart... It was good to be there and I look forward to next time.

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They say misery loves company
We could start a company and make misery
Frustrated Incorporated

Well I know just what you need
I might just have the thing
I know what you'd pay to see

Put me out of my misery
I'd do it for you, would you do it for me
We will always be busy making misery

We could build a factory and make misery
We'll create the cure; we made the disease
Frustrated Incorporated
Frustrated Incorporated

Well I know just what you need
I might just have the thing
I know what you'd pay to feel

Put me out of my misery
All you suicide kings and you drama queens
Forever after happily, making misery

Did you satisfy your greed, get what you need
Was it only envy, so empty
Frustrated Incorporated
Frustrated Incorporated
(Put me out of my misery)
Frustrated Incorporated
(I'd do it for you, would you do it for me)
Frustrated Incorporated
(Forever after happily)
(I know just what you need)
Frustrated Incorporated

Soul Asylum, Misery, from Let Your Dim Light Shine - 1995

See, I said there would be something to cheer everybody up... Saw Clerks II on Sunday, it is slowly sinking in. I am not sure that I entirely agree with Lee on this one, but all in all I was glad that Dante and Randal are OK in the end. I love those guys.

Everything will be OK in the end. Even if it takes a decade to get there. And that is quite OK.

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and back to Hull

It is always nice to go somewhere new. Sunday evening I found myself with a select group at the Santiago Bar in Leeds accompanying good friend Emma Rugg who was playing at their Sunday Session. Having offered to drive should Emma get a booking outside of Hull, I was glad to be of assistance. Hoorah for being useful.

It reminds me of evenings in Cahors back last century, when it would get to 9pm with nothing to do and Toulouse was just a 160kph hour down the motorway. Though it turns out that Leeds on a Sunday night was decidedly less exciting. No tapas restaurants open til 2am, no lively crowds milling in the streets, it was even quite easy to park and Burger King was closed by 9. Did we miss something? Oh, probably.

The Santiago was a cosy little bar but had the darkest stage ever, with just a few chandeliers to light the room and no stage lights at all. Without resorting to flash, the only way I got any pictures at all was thanks to f1.8 with the 50mm. Yes I am glad that I got that little lens. Light is kind of important to making photos, and the 50mm doesn't need very much of it.

On a more general scheme of things, well, I am just deciding what to do next. And what I should do next and why I want to do it. And Monday has not been helping, having brought rain and general melancholy. Yes I realise that this blog is a little downbeat at present, so my ambition for the next post is to write about happy things. I promise that I will be back with something nice to talk about. Really. Oh and we are going to see Emma play at the Tiger's Lair on Wendesday. Come on, it will be fun.

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Thanks Den's brother! I have just got a new lens to play with. A lens, had my love of photographs stretched to real cameras, say 15 rather than just 10 years ago, that I would probably already be familiar with. But I am of a generation of photographers of which many have never owned a prime lens. It is a very small thing on the front of a D100, but then it just does the one job. I guess the theory is that while only doing that, it should at least do it rather well.

That is the idea anyway. I will test that later on at some almost but not entirely random gig at a shabby bar on Beverley Road. It will be interesting - I do like taking pictures in the dark and up to now that has meant a combination of 1000ASA, holding my breath and sheer luck. And I do love the tiny depth of field thing that f1.8 creates, like being able to cut out all those things you don't want to really see. Which once again confirms to me that taking pictures is not about what is actually there in front of you, but rather which bits of it you like.

Oh, a bit like real life then.

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the night

Why is it that 2am just seems to be the right time to write a blog post? Daylight doesn't seem to help. Yesterday evening I went out to kill some time, stretch my legs, will the morning closer. Armed with a tripod and no deadlines, a car and just the edge of the city to aim for, I set out to take some pictures. I drove past unlit houses, where people no doubt asleep were dreaming the same dreams as I.

Just an empty road ahead, the city was soon behind. I always love to stop the car and stand out in the middle of the night. Breathe in the space, take in the sound of darkness. Eyes slowly acclimatise and start to capture details that a camera, shutter open for 10 seconds, allows you to take home.

And again there was beauty in all this ugliness. Maybe next time I will get far enough away from light polution to see the stars? One day I will tell you all about lying on the cliffs above St Gery looking at the night there. Where you can see the milky way strike clear across the sky, follow satellites as they trawl from one horizon to the other and in the summer wait, trying not to blink, for shooting stars on which to make a wish. Ooh, and the glow worms and the chorus of insects, it is magical. The night sky is something precious, I think of open topped cars and stopping in the middle of nowhere, bike rides by moonlight, growing up sitting on bridges, sharing a bottle of wine... I guess I miss it.

Now the car is outside, ticking hot in the cool air, my shoes kicked off in the hallway, and it is time for sleep.

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Come on a road trip. An adventure down a long road, that takes us far beyond the poplar trees on that hill to who knows where. Saturday night, Sunday morning, headlights cutting through the 3am mist, time to escape beyond the horizon.

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thanks for coming

It has been a day. A day of the kind that leaves me wanting to do what I do best, that is to say cook chili and drink red wine. And eat chili and drink red wine and listen to loud hip hop like a white boy. But oh, I love the bass lines...

thanks Den, sunroof shots...

Good things happened; I have a job interview on Friday. My car is now faster than it was, which it eagerly proved to me by lighting up the (admittedly cheap nasty) front tyres on the dry roundabout round the corner without clutchslippingantics (and the throttle didn't jam open this time, reassuringly and more to the point, life preservingly). So the Alfa is starting to be a fun car now the wonderful enthusiast mechanic I found is working his magic. Oh, and I ate chili and drank Rhone valley red and listened to A Tribe Called Quest in an old skool fashion.

Magic car.

car park, with a car in it, now faster than before

Equally, it has been quite bad. I thought maybe a month ago that life couldn't get any more complexly messed up, but the past week has proven me wrong. I just know that at this present time I like to write more than anything else too. And knowing that all there is to do is sit back, wait, and just walk away if that is how it is to be makes me wish that things could have been different. So nothing new there then for the 2006 'Shit Happens' season.

OK, Goodnight. Goodnight Dizzy Dustin, Young Einstein and Andy Cooper, goodnight Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, goodnight MC Guru and DJ Premier. And thanks for coming.

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They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But what if they haven't got their glasses?

That would be a problem, and one that photographers often don't so much as face, but actually create. Because we are fond of trying to pick fights with aesthetes everywhere we go. To most it is just a rusty gate, but I see texture, symmetry, a story (like why is there a gate? who wants to keep me out?). Indeed I would say that I saw beauty.

Just as Calvin decided that playing in the mud made him an aesthete - because it annoyed his mother (that is Calvin is as in Calvin and Hobbes, the small boy and his tiger, rather than the 15th century theologian). I would like to think that pulling a striking image out of a '60s tower block in Hull city centre is something that the eyes of the beholder alone would struggle to accomplish. But with a D100 and a dodgy copy of Photoshop CS2, anything is possible.

Blogs really are for writing a load of crap.

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where did summer go?

It is the last day of August and how life has changed of late. Thursday morning, just before 9. But not the usual rush where is my laptop, which shoes today, is it cold outside to leave the house. No, I could sip coffee in bed because I am unemployed. I wrote a letter, using a pen. Then took photos of it and e-mailed it to save time. My washing machine broke. It has been another strange day.

But other than that it has mainly been business as usual. Earlier this week, Monday night, it was down to the Tap and Spile on Spring Bank - an old fashioned Hull pub - to see Emma. And it was wet and dark, but Emma was in good spirits. And although a potential trip to France to gig with Aeria fell through due to unforseen debts (and now my washing machine has broken down too), we had a good chat about doing something similar soon. With plans, and dates set up and cheap tickets booked in advance.

And thanks Emma for standing outside for seemingly three hours waiting for the taxi that you called for us. At least we met this kitten. Den took a picture with my camera, but I don't think he will remember very clearly...

So, at the end of this strange day, what else is there to do other than listen to clunky Icelandic analogue house music just loud enough to be noticed by neighbours who have spend all week hammering in their bathroom? Perhaps time for an early night?

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about me

Weeks and months turn into years and who knows what surprises a new day will bring? As shelves fill with more songs, dust collects, memories accumulate and we pass through the lives of others, sometimes pausing, sometimes pulling up a chair, sometimes moving on. Thinking that tomorrow is going to be like yesterday. What do we know? I just like words and pictures, so why make excuses for collecting those either? But some things will never change, the sad songs will always be the best ones.


old old old

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